THE WHITE ENVELOPE

It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it, overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma, the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son, Kevin, who was 12 that year was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended, and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in the spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids, all kids, and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse.

That’s when the idea of his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.

For each Christmas, I followed the tradition, one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there.

You see we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.

Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.

The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

Author Unknown

Week 78

“People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to. ~~ George E. Allen

Week 77

“It sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents.” ~~ Eric Hoffer

American Isshinryu, Weather, Kick-A-Thon

THANKS to everyone who attended the American Isshin-ryu Seminars Saturday, November 13th at Fit Happens. Remember renewal for the association should be done ASAP. The cost is just $35.00 for a Life Time membership. This membership helps keep Isshin-ryu Karate Strong, reduces costs for periodic seminars and much more.

Weather Reminder: As we approach the winter season, listen to WRNJ Radio 1510 if the weather is questionable. I will make class cancellations by 4 pm on days when weather conditions may not be safe.

Our annual kick-a-thon for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was held November 8 to 13. We have kicked 34,690 times and have raised $1065 so far this year, which makes our grand total $14,940 since we started Kick-A-Thons. WELL DONE EVERYONE and get those final forms in.

MIRACLE – Anonymous

A little girl went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even the total had to be exactly perfect. No chance here for mistakes. Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way 6 blocks to Rexall’s Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door.

She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention but he was too busy at this moment. Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good. Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!

“And what do you want?” the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. I’m talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven’t seen in ages,” he said without waiting for a reply to his question.

“Well, I want to talk to you about my brother,” Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. “He’s really, really sick… and I want to buy a miracle.”

” His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?”

“We don’t sell miracles here, little girl. I’m sorry but I can’t help you,” the pharmacist said, softening a little.

“Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn’t enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs.”

The pharmacist’s brother was a well-dressed man. He stooped down and asked the little girl, “What kind of a miracle does your brother need?”

” I don’t know,” Tess replied with her eyes welling up. I just now he’s really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But my Daddy can’t pay for it, so I want to use my money.”

” How much do you have?” asked the man from Chicago.

“One dollar and eleven cents,” Tess answered barely audibly. And it’s all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to.”

“Well, what a coincidence,” smiled the man. “A dollar and eleven cents—the exact price of a miracle for little brothers. ”

He took her money in one hand and with the other hand he grasped her mitten and said “Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let’s see if I have the miracle you need.”
That well dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specializing in neuro-surgery. The operation was completed free of charge and it wasn’t long until Andrew was home again and doing well.
Mom and Dad were happily talking about the chain of events that had led them to this place. & to; that surgery,” her Mom whispered. “was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?”

Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost…one dollar and eleven cents … plus the faith of a little child.
* * *
In our lives, we never know how many miracles we will need OR if we will ever be the cause or recipient of one. A miracle is not the suspension of natural law, but the operation of a higher law.

A ball is a circle, which has no beginning and no end. This circle keeps us together like our ‘Circle of Friends’. Friendship is treasure for you to experience and share. The miracle of saving a life, or being a true friend, is a precious gift. Today I pass the friendship ball to you. Pass it on to someone who is a friend to you.

As Charles Dickens said in Great Expectations – Chapter 9, “That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”

We do not know the day that something great may happen because of something that we do for someone or because of something that is done to or for us. We must be ready and open to help and support other people.

“You have not lived a perfect day, even though you have earned your money, unless you have done something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” Ruth Smeltzer

Believe in miracles.
Find the Secret to life within yourself.
Live to help others and you will truly help yourself.

Week 76

“There are only two options regarding commitment; you’re either in or you’re out. There’s no such thing as life in-between.” ~~ Pat Riley

Week 75

“Always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost.” ~~ Robert H. Schuller

Week 74

“When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so regretfully upon the closed door that we don’t see the one that has opened for us.” ~~ Alexander Graham Bell

Week 73

Everyone dies, but not everyone fully lives. Too many people are having a “near-life experience.” ~~ Author Unknown

Week 72

“You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an event – it is a habit.”
Aristotle